(New York, N.Y.) — Last week, attackers linked to U.S.-designated terror organization the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) detonated a bomb outside the Turkish Interior Ministry buildings in Ankara, leaving one dead and two others wounded. This was the first direct attack on the Turkish capital since 2016 and prompted a flurry of strikes on PKK strongholds in Iraq from Turkish Security Forces.
Following the attack, the pro-PKK Firat News Agency (ANF) published a statement from the terror group’s central command confirming that “a unit of our ‘Brigade of Immortals’ carried out a sacrificial action in front of the Turkish Ministry of Interior.” The statement went on to frame the attack as a warning, and noted the attackers “could have achieved a very different result with only a small change in their timing if they had wanted to”—alluding to the possibility of larger, higher-casualty targets.
Within hours of the Ankara attack, Turkey conducted 20 airstrikes on key PKK infrastructure and housing units in the northern Iraq regions of Metina, Kandil, Gara, and Hakurk. Turkey’s rapid response sorties, according to Turkish authorities, fall under Article 51 of the United Nations charter, authorizing partner nations to defend their borders. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan further announced that all facilities and infrastructure belonging to the PKK and its Syrian offshoot the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are now “legitimate targets” of Turkey’s security forces and intelligence units.
The PKK, a Kurdish transnational militant group founded by political activist Abdullah Öcalan in Turkey in 1978, calls for an independent Kurdish state. Funded by taxing the operations of cross-border smugglers, the PKK employs car bombs, suicide bombings, abductions, and assassinations against civilians, foreign tourists, and politicians to advance its political ambitions while actively destroying or subsuming other Kurdish nationalist movements that deviate from the PKK’s specific ideology.
To read CEP’s full report on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), please click here.
To read CEP’s full report, Turkey: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.